With D.C. United set to open training camp Sunday in Washington, the Insider caught up with midfielder Chris Pontius. Still rehabbing from a season-ending broken leg in September, Pontius is on a timetable to return to 100 percent health around March 1 — less than two weeks before United’s MLS opener against Sporting Kansas City.
After Pontius’s injury, suffered in a collision with a Chivas USA player, United was never the same again. The club went 1-6-2 without him and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. The fracture also abruptly ended the finest campaign in Pontius’s three seasons: seven goals and five assists in 25 starts. Despite the nine-game absence, he still finished seventh on the club in minutes played among players who spent the entire season with United.
Pontius said he has started using an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill and then will move to a conventional treadmill later in training camp. If all goes well, he will begin running outdoors.
“It has taken longer than I thought it would, but everyone was telling me it’s a six-month injury,” said Pontius, who suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right tibia. “I felt like I hit a stalling point.”
So to boost the healing process, he underwent a procedure in which bone marrow was transferred from his hip to the injured area in his lower leg.
Although he can’t train yet, Pontius plans to accompany his teammates to camp locations in Florida, Arizona and South Carolina over the next six weeks.
“I’m shooting for March 1,” he said. “I’d like it to be sooner, but there is no sense pushing it. I’m going to let the leg dictate it.”
At that point, conditioning and match fitness will become an issue. Whether he plays in the opener or the second match against the reigning champion Los Angeles Galaxy at Home Depot Center — the site of his injury — remains to be seen.
Meantime, Pontius is hopeful his brother will join him in MLS this season. Tim Pontius, a center back, completed his senior season at UC Santa Barbara and is seeking pro opportunities. He participated in a Seattle Sounders combine and hopes to be selected in the four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.
“He just wants a shot in preseason somewhere,” Chris said of his brother, who started 20 of 23 matches for the Gauchos (15-7-1) this past season.